Empowering Talent Development through Technology
The digital revolution is now at its peak and this is expected to remain relevant and predominant in the next few years. As the world is shifting to a more agile and digitally-enabled process in terms of work design, the transformation of every organization is reliant on both their leaders and learning development functions. To the talent development practitioners, this means more responsibilities and roles to fill in which could either be an advantage or a challenge considering that striking balance between addressing challenges related to employee engagement and finding innovative ways to ensure that employees thrive in the workplace are expected.
A quick survey with learning and development practitioners here in the Philippines showed that majority of them faced the following challenges:
- Working from home
- Using applications that are new to them
- Transforming classroom training virtually
But on a positive note, these challenges come with many opportunities for talent development functions to help organizations fully transform to a new workplace environment and one way to do this is to evaluate and blend the right technology tools to the overall strategy.
So how can talent development evolve and thrive with technology? Let’s look at it through the GRIT mindset.
Fostering a Grit Mindset as a Talent Development practitioner
Based on PEAK Learning’s and Dr. Paul G. Stoltz’ definition of GRIT, it is the capacity to dig deep and do whatever it takes to achieve your most worthy goals in the best ways. There are four key elements to GRIT which are growth, resilience, instinct, and tenacity.
Growth mindset is a key element of GRIT and is defined as seeking and trying out fresh ideas, perspectives, alternatives, and approaches. For talent development functions who are seeking and finding new ways to implement learning and engagement strategies, now is the best time to execute a growth mindset when it comes to getting started with technology tools.
Experimenting the use of multiple applications and digital tools can be quite overwhelming and one way to ensure its convenience and efficiency is to engage L&D leaders and their respective teams in a deeper knowledge and understanding of the features of the applications. This way, leaders can evaluate as to which categories each would fall under.
Below is a guide that segments the different types of technologies and applications based on their main function for talent development teams:
Platforms can be an online playground where employees can make learning integrated with their lifestyle. This is also a good way to help employees adjust to a hybrid or work set up and for L&D teams, this can help them shift their existing programs virtually.
Storage comes into play when you want to make the most out of your email applications like Google, Microsoft etc. These tools can help make the most out of ensuring that the right knowledge goes to the right performer. Learning activities and worksheets for employees can be easily stored in a shared drive so that it can be easy for the learner to access and download.
- Content Hosts
Learning applications like Udemy, Mindtools, LinkedIn Learning and HubSpot Academy are great tools for learners to use when they want to learn new skills at their own time and at their own pace. Most content hosts like HubSpot Academy and LinkedIn Learning offer certifications which can help raise the credibility of your learners.
This also gives an added value for L&D since learners are motivated to learn new skills or enhance their existing skills through the courses offered in these applications.
- Content Authoring
Learners are looking for more out of the box ways for L&D to deliver learning and a good way to do this is to explore tools and applications that can help create a great learning experience for employees. L&D teams can start with creating learning and engagement programs through applications like YouTube, Tiktok, or Instagram where the majority of the learners spend most of their time on.
- Survey and Engagement
Applications like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, Menti-meter or even Zoom polls can be a good way to identify the needs of the employees and give them an avenue to engage with and provide feedback for L&D’s existing learning and engagement activities.
Pro Tip: There is no limit to set how many apps L&D must make use of but it is important to note that:
- One must have knowledge of the functions and usage of the app
- Ensuring that certain choices of platforms aggregate all things together to provide a seamless experience for your learning participants.
- These applications should tie and bring the learning together.
Resilience is about responding constructively to an individual’s goal hampering adversities. This is an opportunity for L&D to evaluate what opportunities are present behind the obstacles. Despite the many disruptions brought about the shift to a remote or hybrid workplace, there are many areas for growth which respective teams can focus on:
- Virtual Collaboration and Remote Leadership
Opportunities for L&D are prevalent which provide value to their organizations starting with addressing the need to train employees and leaders to virtual collaboration and remote leadership.
- Enabling performance through technology
Managing performance is a known issue in most organizations even up to date and for L&D, they are responsible to train leaders, department heads and HR in ensuring that proper performance is monitored, and that goals setting and coaching are continuous and maintained even when working remotely.
- New work models and workflows
Businesses are going through new work designs and workflows and this is an opportunity for L&D to focus on ensuring that well-being support and health and safety are integrated properly the organization’s new work models.
Pro-Tip: L&D or Talent Development’s role is more known as essential during this time of reset and therefore, would be good to focus on growth areas that are aligned with the organization’s overall short term and long term goals.
Instinct is about navigating towards the right goals in the best and smartest ways that can help. Starting with seeking ways and answers on how L&D functions can help the organization. Before arriving at answers and specific solutions and action points that can help reach each goal, it is important to consider asking the right questions to help in navigating their existing realities.
Questions that L&D can ask:
- What business issues do you want to create an impact?
- What should your team contribute considering the priorities of the business?
- How is L&D currently perceived in the organization? Is your team regarded as a cost or an investment now?
- Is L&D an auxiliary or core function in the organization?
- What learning tools, applications and methods are currently available to employees?
Pro Tip: Aside from asking the right questions, it would also be helpful to do an audit of L&D’s current offers and check which ones need to be looked into based on the learner’s goals and organization’s overall reskilling initiatives.
Lastly, we have tenacity, which is defined as persisting, committing to, and relentlessly going after whatever you choose to achieve. This refers to finding a virtuous cycle that individuals can commit to relentlessly especially for talent development as a practice.
When applied, this ‘virtuous cycle’ can answer the question, in what ways can talent development practitioners be creative with technology?
Step 1: Empathize
Start with empathy. This means knowing how people are learning nowadays and how employees are absorbing knowledge and ensuring that they are practiced in their respective fields. This is an appropriate time for L&D to ask and evaluate what their current state is and how their people are learning.
As much as people are trying to measure themselves now, the level of path to ensure that there is proper credentialing is scaling up. This is where the function can begin to empathize with them by knowing how their learners are learning.
Step 2: Simulate
This means refocusing talent development’s learning design. It is important to note that a shift from the traditional skills assessment to focusing on targeted skills is necessary. To get started, L&D should ask what exact skills they want to focus on and how crucial it is to the expected outcome.
Step 3: Care
Caring requires setting the right experience to employees and learners and the role of L&D has evolved to setting a good and integrative learning experience regardless of their workplace setting. This starts with them choosing the technology platforms that set the right experiences and capture the target learning experience for individuals.
Step 4: Collaborate
Thriving in talent development through technology and innovation is not a job of L&D alone. This means that their function must also get in touch with the business, their users, cross functional teams down to extensions outside the organization such as their technology partners, researchers and respective institutions.
Talent Development and Technology
There are many tools and applications that can help talent development functions thrive in their respective organizations but despite the many options, it is important for L&D to be aware of what specific tools are needed for them to keep their learners engaged. The four aspects of the GRIT mindset- growth, resilience, instinct and tenacity can be an integrative guide to help L&D evaluate the right tools and technology in addressing their most pressing L&D challenges and find new opportunities using the right innovative tools.